Workplace fatigue plagues workplaces of all kinds, in all industries, generating significant cost burdens for employers and degrading the employee’s ability to function properly and productively at work—putting them at risk for injuries and accidents. It’s an issue that leads to some $136 billion in costs to employers each year, with further losses coming in the form of diminished productivity, absenteeism, and return-to-work obstacles that keep injured employees from reentering the workforce.
In the DORN fatigue video blog series, we’ve examined various case studies illustrating the impacts of fatigue across industries and job types, and assembled some recommendations for how employers can proactively manage fatigue among their workers and design new policies and initiatives to combat the costs, both financial and human.
Mike Harnett, President at Solaris Fatigue Management, suggests using fatigue as a lens through which to examine all workplace safety and productivity issues, from musculoskeletal disorders to reductions in worker effectiveness and efficiency. Examining operational issues with a focus on fatigue can illuminate new ways to tackle common workplace problems, as fatigue is a common risk factor for many of these issues. She recommends adopting a holistic perspective that looks beyond the worker’s flaws and analyzes the problems in systems and processes.
Dr. Lora Cavuoto (University at Buffalo) has devoted considerable research to the fatigue problem, finding that it affects many workers in unique ways—each employee experiencing fatigue will also experience different types of discomfort and other effects, and each worker’s specific health characteristics will define how that individual’s fatigue should be addressed. She recommends interventions based on reviewing high-risk tasks, work break allocation, and posture variability, a three-pronged strategy that helps workers of all types fight and recover from their fatigue.
In her research, Dr. Cassie Hilditch (NASA/ARC) explores several routes for fatigue management, based primarily on establishing communication and trust between management and at-risk employees. Her suggestions focus on analysis of the specific fatigue risk factors for each employee, engaging directly to find areas of high risk and create interventions that specifically address the problems of the individual workers. Combined with long-term trend analysis of intervention results, this kind of ongoing relationship between administrators and workers can build trust and improve results.
Finally, Kevin Lombardo (CEO, DORN Companies) suggests a holistic approach that incorporates insights from a range of worker safety strategies. Ergonomics offers a valuable analytical benchmark to help determine fatigue risk, while hands-on pain and self-care techniques can empower employees to become active participants in their health and safety. While proactive fatigue management strategies offer useful tools in addressing the problem, other techniques like industrial athlete training and ergonomic injury prevention programs can provide out-of-the-box solutions that might generate improvements that might not be uncovered otherwise.
We hope you enjoyed the DORN fatigue video blog series.
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You can read parts 1-4 here:
Missed Part 1 of our Fatigue Series ? Click here.
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